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Friday, May 24, 2024

The University of California, academic workers reach tentative agreement

A tentative agreement between parties was reached after engaging with third-party mediator Darrell Steinberg 


By KAYA DO-KHANH — campus@theaggie.org


After a month-long strike that began on Nov. 14, the University of California (UC) and academic workers, including academic student employees (ASEs) and graduate student researchers (GSRs), reached a tentative labor agreement on Friday, Dec. 16. The agreement will go to the union’s membership for a ratification vote in the next couple of days, according to a recent press release from the United Auto Workers (UAW).  

On Dec. 12, the UC Office of the President came out with a statement announcing that both parties welcomed the UC Davis School of Law alumni and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg as a third-party mediator in the negotiations. 

The UC also released a statement about the ratification of new five-year contracts for postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers on Dec. 12. The approved contracts will be effective through September 30, 2027, and include multi-year pay increases, transit benefits and improved paid family leave. 

“These agreements honor our employees’ important contributions and uphold the University’s longstanding practice of providing these employees with some of the best compensation and benefits packages in the country,” the UC Executive Director of Systemwide Labor Operations Letitia Silas said in the press release

Steinberg’s direct communications with UC President Michael Drake have led to tentative agreements for academic student employees and graduate student researchers that include record-setting wage increases, which would make the UC graduate student workers the highest paid at any public university in the country if the contract is ratified, according to the UAW. Across the UC campuses, there would be 55-80% increases in annual pay for ASEs, who currently make around $24,000 in an academic year, and 25-80% increases for GSRs by 2024. The agreements feature the first contractual transit benefits at UC and developments in terms of job recognition and classification; each campus would be able to implement higher-paid TA job titles, which creates more opportunities for increased salaries. 

According to an article from the New York Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that he was “relieved” by the deal. He also said that a state budget agreement made this year includes a minimum of five years of annual increases to UC funding that will most likely be applied to the additional costs of the contract. 

The President of UAW 2865 Rafael Jaime told the New York Times that the agreement is “a huge deal, and it will go a long way toward addressing the high cost of living near U.C. campuses.” 

The ratification votes by the union for the tentative agreement will take place from 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 19 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23.

Written by: Kaya Do-Khanh — campus@theaggie.org